MP's Robertson, Dunne, Kedgley, Gilmore

MP's Robertson, Dunne, Kedgley, Gilmore

Back Benches on Wednesday was a change to the normal routine – Wallace Chapman was MIA, rumoured to be presenting evidence to the Bain Trial in High Court, and was replaced by Damian Christie, who made a reasonable fist of representing the formula Chapman has been running as a template.

The panel comprised Grant Robertson (L), Sue Kedgley (G), Peter Dunne (UF) and Aaron Gilmore (N), and answered questions on the rapid passage of the Auckland Supercity legislation – both Robertson and Kedgley slating the process under urgency, Kedgley calling it ‘abuse of process’, both criticising the lack of consultation.

Then the topic moved to the pork industry, with Mike King’s video footage of the pig-farmers’ sow crates getting another once-over; again, both Robertson & Kedgley were condemnatory of the status quo that allows such practices, with Kedgley adding that it stretches credulity for the Minister of Agriculture to say he ‘did not know of’ the practice of intensive pig-farming using sow crates; Peter Dunne waded in to say he thought this practice was probably illegal, to the amusement of the crowd, and was swiftly corrected by Kedgley, who informed him that it was precisely the legality of the practice that was so unsavoury, and chastised the MinAg and previous Labour Government for not removing the right for farmers to continue to use sow crates (previously, much had been made of her experiences campaigning against such practices since 1999). After a sally by Aaron Gilmore in defense of his Minister, Dunne suggested that all this publicity would ‘damage our pork exports’, to which the rejoinder was ‘we are net importers of pork, and all our production is consumed here, not exported …’, another own-goal to the member for Ohariu.

Further topics included the costs of jury trials, and the windfalls to lawyers that these represent, which scored another few goals against Dunn, and lawyers in general; and the ubiquitous Christine Rankin – vox pops in Auckland were in favour of keeping her on the Families Commission (sample size = 10), but the mood in the Bar was more judgmental, especially in light of her media behaviour in past days – Kedgley calling her ‘divisive and partisan’, Robertson saying John Key must take responsibility for her appointment to the Commission, and Dunne very much against her, saying her personality made her unsuitable, and her tendency to comment, ad nausea, to the media on any topic made her a liability to the Commission.

The final question – Is the honeymoon over for the National Government? – led to to a stirring statement that ‘our PM is the most popular PM we’ve had in a generation’ from Aaron Gilmore, which was lost in catcalls from the assembled audience members.

Full footage of the show here.

This week’s episode of BB was a hoot, with a panel comprising MP’s Charles Chauvel from Labour, David Garrett from Act, Louise Upston, Taupo from National, and our own Cath Delahunty.

Up for comment was the Supercity Bill, being rushed through Parliament on urgency tonight; Gun licensing control, & should the Police be armed for day-to-day patrols; and a final (squib) question about the National Anthem.
Many supporters for each of the panel were in evidence, and very vocal.

Cath relaxing after the show with supporters

Cath relaxing after the show with supporters

Info about the programme this week here, which should also actually have the episode up once TVNZ7 have finished tidying it up …

After a week of rainy, blustery weather, J-day 2009 dawned fair, and the members of NORML who have been organising the event for a coupla months breathed a huge sigh of relief. Tents were raised, PA’s set in series, and the music and good times began to flow at around high noon on the 2nd May at Frank Kitts’ Park, Wellington, as well as at other venues around the country.

Banner with slightly out-of-date details ...

Banner with slightly out-of-date details ...

DJ’s Thief and Funkdamunk entertained the relaxed and cheerful crowd, who also created some of their own entertainment with juggling, poi twirlers and hacky sack being in evidence. The amphitheatre of the park was well filled by mid-afternoon, and despite the sky clouding over and the wind increasing slightly, there was a good crowd for the 4.20 smoke up.

Norml are making an attempt to get some more action on changing the legislation around marijuana possession, specifically in terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act, with the support of MP’s Tim Barnett, Meteria Turei, and former MP Nandor Tancos.

For more information about the campaign, see their website here.

On Friday, which was Mayday, I went to a cheery Campaign launch in Wellington for the latest Unite! minimum wage increase call – to raise the minimum to $15/hour.

We gathered at the Southern Cross in Abel Smith St, to be welcomed by Don Franks MC-ing, and a warm-up performance by the Union Choir, who sang stirringly and melodically.

Union Choir at Unite! Campaign launch

Union Choir at Unite! Campaign launch

There were a few more speeches after the intro, then a time of social chitchat and networking was enjoyed by all.

Details of the new campaign can be found at Unite! website.

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